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COVID-19 and restaurant demand: early effects of the pandemic and stay-at-home orders

Yang Yang (Department of Tourism and Hospitality Management, Temple University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA)
Hongbo Liu (School of Hospitality and Tourism Management, University of Surrey, Guildford, UK)
Xiang Chen (Department of Geography, University of Connecticut, Hartford, Connecticut, USA)

International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management

ISSN: 0959-6119

Article publication date: 5 November 2020

Issue publication date: 11 December 2020




This paper aims to evaluate the early effects of the pandemic of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and accompanying stay-at-home orders on restaurant demand in US counties.


The following two sets of daily restaurant demand data were collected for each US county: foot traffic data and card transaction data. A two-way fixed-effects panel data model was used to estimate daily restaurant demand from February 1 to April 30, 2020.


Results show that a 1% increase in daily new COVID-19 cases led to a 0.0556% decrease in daily restaurant demand, while stay-at-home orders were collectively associated with a 3.25% drop in demand. The extent of these declines varied across counties; ethnicity, political ideology, eat-in habits and restaurant diversity were found to moderate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and stay-at-home orders.

Practical implications

These results characterize the regional restaurant industry’s resilience to COVID-19 and identify particularly vulnerable areas that may require pubic policies and managerial strategies for intervention.


This study represents a pioneering attempt to investigate the economic impact of COVID-19 on restaurant businesses.



The authors would like to extend their thanks to and for the data support as well as anonymous referees for their constructive feedback.


Yang, Y., Liu, H. and Chen, X. (2020), "COVID-19 and restaurant demand: early effects of the pandemic and stay-at-home orders", International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, Vol. 32 No. 12, pp. 3809-3834.



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